Is Mumbai Protecting its Famous Street Vendors?
Rules and Regulations That the Street Vendors Must Follow if They Have to Carry on Their Business Legally
Mumbai, the city of dreams, is not just a city for the rich and affluent but caters to every person that walks its streets. While walking the streets of the city, one encounters a colourful array of street vendor stalls. These stalls sell basic items like fruits and vegetables to items in high demand like mobile phone accessories and handicraft items. The highlight of street vendors is of course the famous “roadside” food of Mumbai. This includes the delicious vada pav, the iconic dish of Mumbai, along with various chaat items and the famous Bombay sandwich. It might sound unbelievable, but all of this is available through the critical network of street vendors that make the city’s streets so lively and colourful.
This blog details the rules and regulations that street vendors must follow if they have to carry on their business legally.
We will explain these rules through a question – answer format, in an attempt to explain the rights of street vendors in Mumbai.
Note: We refer to the Act as the Street Vendors Act, 2014. The full name of the Act is The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014.
Who is a Street Vendor?
A street vendor is a person vending goods, food items or merchandise of everyday use or offering services to the general public.
Street vendors can vend in a street, lane, sidewalk, footpath, pavement, public park or other public or private areas. They can only make a temporary structure or conduct their business by moving from place to place.
Peddlers, squatters, hawkers and other such people are also considered street vendors under the law.
How can a street vendor apply for a Licence in Mumbai?
The Street Vendors Act, 2014 has changed the older system of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) issuing Licences for street vendors. It establishes new authorities called Town Vending Committees (TVC) that will provide a ‘Certificate of Vending’.
The Bombay High Court in 2015 has placed the following restriction:
- Only street vendors holding Licences or conducting business before 1 May 2014 are allowed to continue their business and apply for the Certificate.
- If you have any proof that you had a street vending stall even without a Licence, before 1 May 2014, you can apply for this new Certificate.
- For street vendors who have started their business after 1 May 2014, Certificates will not be issued till the TVC conducts a Survey.
During the application process, the following documents may be required:
- Identity proof such as Birth Certificate or Aadhar
- Proof of vending such as fines and receipts
- Bank account details
- A self-undertaking (hamipatra) that vending is the only source of the applicant’s livelihood
- A domicile certificate of the State of Maharashtra (this requirement is contested and currently being reviewed by the courts)
After completion of the process:
- The TVC will issue a Certificate
- An Identity Card will also be issued
Is the old Licence valid after the introduction of this new Act?
Yes, the old Licence is valid till the date of expiry as mentioned on it, even if this date is beyond 1 May 2014.
If your Licence has expired before 1 May 2014, you have to apply for a Certificate, as per the new system, with the Town Vending Committee.
What are the different categories of street vending for which you can get a Certificate?
Stationary vendors: For street vendors having stalls that are permanently located in a designated spot.
Mobile vendors: For street vendors who do not have a permanent stall and are always on the move. For example, vegetable and fruit cart vendors who keep moving from one area to another.
Temporary or seasonal vendors: For street vendors who have been allocated space for festival bazaars, night bazaars, weekly bazaars and temporary bazaars. For example, stalls for seasonal fruits like mangoes and oranges.
What are the conditions under the law that street vendors need to keep in mind during the application process?
While running a business, there are some conditions street vendors must keep in mind:
- They cannot cook food items in the stalls. Only pre-cooked food is permitted.
- They cannot set up their stalls around hospitals, educational institutions, residential areas and areas where trading and commercial activity is prohibited.
- Street vendors cannot put up any permanent structures for their stalls. They can only use what is required to protect from the sun, rain or wind.
- The area allowed for a stall is 1m x 1m on one side of the footpath or at the end of the road.
Street vendors should not block vehicle and pedestrian traffic, and access to shops and buildings.
What is a Town Vending Committee (TVC) and why is it important?
The TVC has members from the BMC and street vendors associations. The role of the TVC is important as they are the primary authority that conducts surveys to decide Certificates for street vendors in Mumbai. TVCs are responsible for:
- Identifying areas where street vending is permitted and designating which areas have restrictions and which do not.
- Maintaining records of all street vendors to whom Certificates have been issued.
- Allocating space for festival bazaars, night bazaars, weekly bazaars and temporary bazaars, for example, stalls for seasonal fruits like mangoes and oranges.
The TVC gives preference for certificates to:
- Scheduled castes, Scheduled tribes
- Widows, persons with disabilities, minorities and other backward classes (OBCs)
What is a TVC Survey?
A TVC Survey is conducted to identify eligible street vendors. After the TVC conducts the Survey, a database of all the eligible street vendors must be maintained. This database shall record:
- The name of the street vendor
- The particular stall allotted to them
- Nature of the business
- Category of street vending
- Other relevant details
The database will help the BMC identify all the eligible street vendors. However, delays have occurred in conducting these Surveys and the State Government has indicated that they will conduct the Survey this year.
Can the Licence or Certificate be leased out, sold, transferred to another person or inherited?
The Licence or Certificate is non-transferable and cannot be sold to a third person. Leasing or renting to a third party is also prohibited under the law.
The Licence or Certificate cannot be inherited by anyone including a family member doing the same job. However, only if Licence fees are paid for and a street vendor dies during that time, their family members can continue running the stall until the end of that payment period.
Are there any separate rules or schemes for street vendors in Maharashtra?
Yes, the Pathvikreta Yojana Scheme, 2017 in Maharashtra outlines additional requirements for street vendors. They should:
- Be a citizen of India
- A resident of Maharashtra
- Not have any other source of livelihood
- Be 14 years and older
However, this Yojana is not binding and is only to be used as a guideline.
Can a street vendor set up a stall anywhere in the city?
No. A street vendor can only set up their stall in the location mentioned on their Licence, Certificate or Identity Card.
For example, there is a restriction on street vending stalls set up outside places of worship. While a vendor can set up a stall there, they can only sell items used by devotees in these places of worship.
What can a street vendor do when their goods are seized?
If a street vendor has set up their stall in a no-vending zone, the BMC may seize their goods and remove them. In case of seizure, the street vendors have a right to obtain a copy of a panchnama. The panchnama will list all the items seized by the BMC accompanied by a signature of the person conducting the seizure.
For a street vendor to reclaim their goods, the BMC can ask them to pay a fine or provide an undertaking.
Street vendors can also join their local street vendor associations as these associations inform them about their rights and undertake measures to protect them. For example, the Azad Hawkers Union filed a writ petition against the Pathvikreta Yojana Scheme, 2017 of Maharashtra as the scheme was arbitrary and against the interests of street vendors across the city.
Can the BMC evict a street vendor and relocate them to another street, even if the street vendor has a valid Licence or Certificate?
The BMC can evict a street vendor only if the vendor violates any of the rules or causes any kind of nuisance to the public at large. No eligible street vendor can be evicted otherwise.
If the BMC wishes to modify a street vendors zone, they have to consult the police commissioner, members of the public and street vendors associations before making any decision. In case of eviction, a street vendor will be given 30 days’ notice.
What are the legal remedies that a street vendor has against wrongful eviction?
In case of eviction or any kind of complaint issued against them, the vendor can seek a remedy before the appropriate court or before a separate Committee established for the same (see Section 20 of the Act for who comprises this Committee).
For example, if a street vendor is evicted due to road widening or any changes to local rules for street vendors, the vendor can take the help of a lawyer to file a petition before the Bombay High Court.
If there is a dispute on the street vendor’s eligibility to conduct their business or a complaint that they have rented their Certificate to a third person, the Committee established will look into the dispute.
During the COVID-19 pandemic what measures did the central government provide to help street vendors?
The central government launched the PMSVANidhi Scheme where all eligible street vendors could avail collateral-free and low-interest loans for up to Rs. 10,000.
Street vendors can directly apply for these loans from the PMSAVNidhi online portal or may apply through their nearest Common Service Centre as available in rural areas.
Any street vendor who has a valid street vendor’s Licence or whose name has appeared in the TVC’s Survey is eligible to avail of a loan under this Scheme.
Alternatively, in the absence of these documents, a street vendor may obtain a Letter of Recommendation from Urban Local Bodies or TVC’s to avail of this loan.
To read more about the PMSAVNidhi Scheme, see here.
During the second wave of Covid-19 in 2021 what rules and policies are being framed for street vendors in Maharashtra?
The State Government has allowed street vendors selling essential goods such as fruits, vegetables and cooked food items to continue their business under the new lockdown guidelines.
However, there cannot be any crowding at the stall and no one can eat or drink anything there. Only pick up and home deliveries are allowed from the vendors.
The State Government has also assured the transfer of Rs. 1,500 to all registered street vendors in the State.
The information for this blog was collected from various sources, including several visits to the BMC office in Mumbai. However, due to the second wave of Covid-19, the BMC office is closed to visitors and our field data is still being gathered. This blog will continuously be updated as and when we have access again.